BRAKEN - The Belgian city Braken on the Dutch border, has 1.2 million chickens among its inhabitants. They divide the village: inhabitants are tired of the smell, fine dust and heavy transport in their village. In order to objectify the discussion, the local government ordered an air quality study.

Nitrogen levels in the village are particularly high and almost everywhere they exceed the capacity of the municipality, according to scientists. Together with the odour nuisance, they conclude that building additional stables is very difficult. Their solution: better barn systems and a reduction of the herd.
The excesses in Braken symbolise where landless industrial animal farming leads to. Ammonia emissions have an impact on nature and the health of citizens in the wider region. If something is moving, be it in terms of policy or science, it is clearly under pressure from citizens.
Apache traversed the hamlet of Braken and spoke to residents and farmers, civil servants, policy makers and scientists. The research report was cast in a multimedia longread, with five background pieces linked to it.
Photo: © Berber Verpoest
Team members

Steven Vanden Bussche

Steven Vanden Bussche (1979) is an investigative journalist at Apache.

Steven Vanden Bussche

Berber Verpoest

Berber Verpoest (1983) is a Belgian freelance (video) journalist from Belgium.

€ 3525 allocated on 20/03/2020.

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